R&D 100 Awards

R&D Magazine honors inventors by identifying the 100 most technologically significant products and advancements each year and recognizing the winning innovators and their organizations. Winners are chosen from an international pool of submissions from universities, private corporations, and government labs. 

In 2015, Sandia researchers and their collaborators earned five R&D 100 Awards. Since 1976, Sandia has earned 109 of these coveted awards — often referred to as the "Oscars of invention" or "the Nobel Prizes of technology." Sandia wins many of its R&D 100 Awards in partnership with private companies, other labs, or universities.

The R&D 100 Awards began in 1963 as the I-R 100s, in keeping with the original name of the magazine, Industrial Research. The sole criterion for winning, according to a description released by the magazine, is "demonstrable technological significance compared with competing products and technologies." Properties noted by judges include smaller size, faster speed, greater efficiency, and higher environmental consciousness.

2015 winners

CO2 Memzyme

CO2 Memzyme is an ultra-thin membrane that is the first cost-effective technology for carbon dioxide separation and capture to meet and exceed the Department of Energy’s (DOE) targets for helping to reduce the threat of climate change. The memzyme surpasses earlier polymeric membrane technology by capturing more carbon dioxide, faster, from a gas mixture while simultaneously producing nearly pure carbon dioxide (99 percent) for industrial reuse. Jointly developed by Sandia and the University of New Mexico, CO2 Memzyme also won the R&D 100 competition’s Green Technology Special Recognition Gold Award. Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) office provided initial funding for this project. DOE’s Basic Energy Sciences, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency‘s Joint Science and Technology Office and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research also provided funding. Watch the video.

LED Pulser

LED Pulser uses light-emitting diodes instead of expensive lasers to provide high-brightness, rapidly pulsed, multicolor light for scientific, industrial or commercial uses. The Pulser’s small LED (light-emitting diode) source permits better detection of ignition via high-speed imaging and has resulted in better understanding of injection, combustion, and emissions formation in diesel engines. The work was supported by DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office. Watch the video.

Integrated Circuit Identification

IC ID, or Integrated Circuit Identification authenticates integrated circuits, detects counterfeit electronics, and verifies individuals’ identities and their transactions using a unique device signature and cryptographically secure challenge-response protocol. Early funding was provided by Sandia’s LDRD program. Watch the video.

Lightweight Distributed Metric Service

Lightweight Distributed Metric Service (LDMS) monitoring software provides detailed awareness of the system-wide performance of high-performance computers and applications in production environments. LDMS was developed by Sandia and Open Grid Computing Inc. of Austin, Texas. Early funding was provided by the LDRD program, with later investments by DOE. Watch the video.

Silicon Carbide JFET Switch

The 6.5kV Enhancement-Mode Silicon Carbide JFET Switch is a low-loss power switch based on a novel silicon carbide junction field-effect transistor. It is expected to improve the efficiency of next-generation power conversion systems used in energy storage, renewable energy, and military applications, as well as data center power distributions. Developers of the switch include United Silicon Carbide Inc., Sandia, and DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Energy Storage Program. Watch the video.

Previous winners

2014 winners


Membrane Projection Lithography publication snapshot
Portable Diagnostic Device for Bacillus Anthracis Detection in Ultra-Low Resource Environments
BaDx is a stand-alone, diagnostics cartridge used in resource-limited and challenging environments to sense real-world concentrations (>100 spores) of virulent B. anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax infection. Resembling a pocket-sized laboratory, BaDx has integrated all diagnosis-necessary lab components into the single-use cartridge including a micro-culture chamber, selective culture media, and lateral-flow assay. For safety, the cartridge also contains a “self-destruct” feature in which the device contents are sterilized post-assay. BaDx is self-sufficient in that it does not require any power or extra equipment to store, operate, or read, and its simplicity means minimal training or skill to use. Watch the video.


Mantevo Suite 1.0 publication snapshot
GOMA 6.0
Goma 6.0 is an open-source, parallel, and scalable multiphysics software package for modeling and simulation of real-life physical processes, with a basis in computational fluid dynamics for problems with evolving geometry. It solves problems in all branches of mechanics, including fluids, solids, and thermal analysis. Goma 6.0 uses advanced numerical methods, focusing on the low-speed flow regime with coupled phenomena for manufacturing and performance applications. It also provides a flexible software development environment for specialty physics. Goma 6.0 is being used to reduce process-development time, understand fundamental processes, and to educate the next generation of computational mechanics experts. Watch the video.


Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool (SGHAT) publication snapshot
Triple Harvesting Plastic Scintillators
A new class of plastic scintillator enables efficient detection of illicit special nuclear materials that may be used to construct a nuclear weapon. Triplet-Harvesting Plastic Scintillators exhibit higher light yields and improved timing properties relative to existing materials, which, combined with their low-cost and scalable attributes, satisfy major shortcomings of current alternatives. For the first time, the spectral and timing characteristics of the scintillator can be controlled, allowing the materials to be tailored to applications of interest. These scintillators promise to revolutionize SNM detection in challenging real-world scenarios, such as those encountered in high-background environments, or under active interrogation conditions. Watch the video.


2013 winners


Membrane Projection Lithography publication snapshot
Membrane Projection Lithography
This fabrication technique enables the creation of a diverse array of microscopic 3-D structures with macroscopic impact. For instance, the technique can be used to create 3-dimensional integrated circuits, the next step in the evolution of 2-dimensional microprocessors, which could lead to truly 3-D microelectronics. Currently, the technique is used to make thermal antennas that can control the direction of heat emitted from an object, potentially easing cooling and heating needs for satellites or perhaps even for buildings and cars. Watch the video.


Mantevo Suite 1.0 publication snapshot
Mantevo Suite 1.0
This integrated collection of small software programs (miniapps) models the performance of full-scale applications, yet requires a fraction of the code. It's the first integrated collection of full-featured miniapps. Miniapps, pioneered by The Mantevo Project, have emerged as central components of computer system co-design. Major computer vendors, universities and national laboratories, use miniapps for the design of next generation high-performance computer systems and tools. Watch the video.


Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool (SGHAT) publication snapshot
Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool (SGHAT)
As alternative energies spread, many agencies are raising concerns over glare from solar energy installations and their impacts on pilots, air traffic controllers, and motorists. SGHAT addresses new federal guidelines requiring quantified assessments of glare from proposed solar installations. The web-based tool can quickly locate a site, outline the proposed array, and identify glare throughout the year, calculating the glare’s intensity and size to predict potential ocular hazards. Watch the video.


2012 winners


Microsystems Enabled Photovoltaics publication snapshot
Microsystems Enabled Photovoltaics
Sandia developed tiny glitter-sized photovoltaic (PV) cells that could revolutionize solar energy collection. The crystalline silicon micro-PV cells will be cheaper and have greater efficiencies than current PV collectors. Micro-PV cells require relatively little material to form well-controlled, highly efficient devices. Cell fabrication uses common microelectronic and micro-electromechanical systems techniques. They are 10 times thinner than conventional cells, yet perform at about the same efficiency.
» Watch video | Additional Video


Sandia Cooler publication snapshot
Sandia Cooler
The Sandia Cooler is 30-times more efficient than conventional air-cooled heat exchangers and is available for licensing to electronics and solid state lighting cooling manufacturers.
» Watch video


Neutristor publication snapshot
The Neutristor is an ultra-compact, disposable, neutron generator 1,000 times smaller than the closest competitor, for use in energy exploration, and medical applications.
» Watch video


Sandia Digital Microfluidic Hub publication snapshot
Sandia Digital Microfluidic Hub
The Sandia Digital Microfluidic Hub — a droplet-handling router — enables the interconnection of diverse processing and analysis modules to automate complex microliter-scale molecular biology sample-preparation protocols.
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2011 winners


Canary publication snapshot
Biomimetic membranes for water purification
Selective, high-flux desalination membranes based on self-assembled nanopores were tuned with atomic-layer deposition to mimic the structures of natural membrane-bound biological channels.
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Micro Power Source publication snapshot
Microresonator filters and frequency references
Our miniature acoustic resonators perform RF filtering and frequency synthesis in next-generation wireless devices — offering higher performance in a smaller package with a lower price.
» Download (PDF, 2.9 MB)
» Watch video


Multifunctional Optical Coatings publication snapshot
Ultra-high-voltage Silicon Carbide Thyristor
This DOE Energy Storage Systems project, managed by Sandia in partnership with GeneSiC Semiconductor Inc., and the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), has developed an ultra-high-voltage silicon carbide thyristor. The semiconductor device allows next-generation "smart grid" power electronics system to be built up to 10 times smaller and lighter than current silicon-based technologies. These packaged-power devices are the world's first commercially available, high-voltage, high-frequency, high-current, high-temperature, single-chip SiC-based thyristors. Their performance advantages are expected to spur innovations in utility-scale power electronics hardware and to increase the accessibility and use of distributed energy resources.
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2010 winners


Canary publication snapshot
CANARY: Event Detection Software is a software package that performs online, multivariate event detection from networked sensor data. Employing statistical forecasting and classification algorithms, CANARY continuously analyzes time series signals for anomalous conditions. This unique software enables online contaminant event detection for time-critical decision making in both routine and emergency water quality assessments.
» Download (PDF, 3.5 MB)
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Micro Power Source publication snapshot
Micro Power Source is a compact, highly miniaturized energy-harvesting (self-charging) power source encapsulated in a polymer coating. It functions by integrating a lithium-ion-based, solid-state battery with a thin photovoltaic (PV) collector. It is charged by an energy-harvesting PV device that is 10 μm thick, single-junction, 10-cell, and silicon (Si)-based. The entire system is environmentally sealed using a specially developed polymer coating.
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Multifunctional Optical Coatings publication snapshot
Multifunctional Optical Coatings, a new technology that has been developed for optical coatings, involve the self-assembly of polymers to form nanostructured coatings with tailored properties. The process uses commercially available polymers, which are dispersed in common solvents, enabling easy and cost-effective routes to produce films through spin, dip, or spray coating in ambient conditions. These films possess physical properties approaching those of materials that are typically fabricated using expensive processes such as CVD and sputtering.
» Download (PDF, 2.2 MB)
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Solution Deposition Planarization
Solution Deposition Planarization (SDP), Superconductor Substrate Preparation Process This joint LANL-Sandia development prepares the metal substrate used in making superconducting wire. Compared with current manufacturing methods, SDP is simpler and less costly, yet it enables greater power density and increased physical strength. SPD also generates less toxic waste. The primary application of the SDP process will be in the fabrication of superconducting wire for power applications.
» View R&D 100 Award website article
Acoustic Wave Biosensors publication snapshot
Acoustic Wave Biosensors, Rapid Point-of-Care Medical Diagnostics is an innovative device that is a handheld, battery-powered, portable detection system capable of multiplex identification of a wide range of medically relevant pathogens and their biomolecular signatures — viruses, bacteria, proteins, and DNA — at clinically relevant levels. This detection occurs within minutes — not hours — at the point of care, whether that care is in a physician's office, a hospital bed, or at the scene of a biodefense or biomedical emergency.
» Download (PDF, 1.9 MB)
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2009 winners


Ultralow-Power Silicon Microphotonic Communications Platform
Ultralow-Power Silicon Microphotonic Communications Platform enables optical data transmission and routing on a silicon platform at nanosecond-switching speeds with up to 100 times less power consumption and 100 times the bandwidth density compared to traditional electronic approaches.
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Artificial Retina Project
Artificial Retina Project offers a retinal prosthesis that can be used to treat age-related macular degeneration and inherited retinal disorders, such as retinitis pigmentosa.
» Visit R&D Award website and article
Hyperspectral Confocal Fluorescence Microscope System
Hyperspectral Confocal Fluorescence Microscope System rapidly finds all emitting fluorescence species of an image.
» Download (PDF, 32.3 MB)



SiCPower Module
SiCPower Module is a high-temperature silicon carbide power module that more efficiently converts electrical energy from one form to another.
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Hyperspectral Confocal Fluorescence Microscope System
NanoCoralTM dendritic platinum nanostructures are an innovative nanotechnology for producing platinum catalysts.
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Catamount N-Way
Catamount N-Way (CNW) Lightweight Kernel delivers significant improvements in data access performance for today's parallel-computing applications.
» Download (PDF, 2.5 MB)


2008 winners


Xyce Parallel Electronic Simulator
XyceTM Parallel Electronic Simulator 4.0.2 is the world's first analog tool capable of full simulation of large digital-circuit systems through the use of massively parallel computation, rather than resorting to accuracy-compromising simplifications used by other tools. Xyce, under development at Sandia since 1999, accurately simulates more than 10 million circuit elements on hundreds of processors, far exceeding any other simulation tool.
» Download (PDF, 2.6 MB)




Silicon Micromachined Dimensional Calibration Artifact for Mesoscale Measurement Machines
Silicon Micromachined Dimensional Calibration Artifact for Mesoscale Measurement Machines was designed to help improve measurement accuracy for miniaturized devices, such as fuel injectors, watch components, and inkjet printer parts. The Sandia MEMS-based three-dimensional physical artifact is 10 times more accurate and much less expensive than the former gold standard and can be used to calibrate a variety of inspection systems.
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Superhyrophobic Coating
Superhydrophobic Coating has a transparent coating that is impermeable to water. The coating can be applied by any standard method, including spin-coating, dip-coating, aerosol spraying, and ink-jet printing. Superhydrophobic coating has many potential applications, including preventing corrosion; protecting electronics and antiquities; and providing a new, more efficient surface to collect pure water.
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2007 winners


ArcSafe© with Pulsed Arrested Spark Discharge is a patented electrical wiring diagnostic that is effective in detecting and locating wiring insulation defects in commercial aircraft.
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Self-Assembling Process for Fabricating Tailored Thin Films
Self-Assembling Process for Fabricating Tailored Thin Films is a simple, economical nanotechnology coating process that enables the development of nanoparticle thin films with architectures and properties unattainable by any other processing method.
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Mode-Filtered Fiber Amplifier
Mode-Filtered Fiber Amplifier is a breakthrough technology that enables the fabrication of practical, high-power, high-beam-quality laser sources that are compact, rugged, and extremely efficient.
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Novint Falcon
Novint Falcon and Novint/Sandia 3D-Touch Software (joint) is the first controller that makes high-fidelity, interactive, three-dimensional touch possible and practical for consumer computing applications.
» Download (PDF, 1.4 MB)
ElectroNeedle™ Biomedical Sensor Array is a device that, when pressed against the skin, can make rapid, multiplexed diagnostic measurements in a point-of-care setting.
» Download (PDF, 1.1 MB)



2006 winners


Compute Process Allocator
Compute Process Allocator is a computer algorithm technology that increases processing efficiency on massively parallel supercomputers. Developed in conjunction with colleagues at the State University of New York and the University of Illinois, the CPA was licensed to Cray Inc. in 2005.
» Download (PDF, 1.2 MB)
HTSS10V is a solid-state, fluoride-based battery that is safer than traditional batteries in high-temperature applications, such as oil, gas, and geothermal drilling. HTSS10V was developed in conjunction with the High Power Battery Systems Company in Nizhny Novgorod Russia and General Atomics.
» Download (PDF, 642 KB)